The Thunderbirds fell to longtime provincial rivals the University of Victoria Vikes 30–14 in the first leg of the Wightman Boot series on Saturday afternoon at the Gerald McGavin Rugby Centre.
The Vikes started out strong with a penalty kick in the seventh minute. Continuing to push the lead in the first half, Vikes’ Denver Fatt scored back-to-back tries in the 26th minute. T-Bird Hillyard Carson scored a try in the late first half, stalling the Vikes’ lead.
Entering the second half down 17–7, the ‘Birds struggled to hold possession of the ball. Gabriel Casey extended the Vikes’ lead to 25–7 with an early second half penalty kick and try. Casey had another solid run to the end zone, adding a try for the Vikes.
The ‘Birds tried to comeback with a late unconverted try in the 81st minute, but it was not enough. The Thunderbirds dropped their home opener 30–14 to the Vikes.
“We got absolutely run off the park. They clearly prepared for the areas where we were traditionally strong. It showed off in their decision making, where they were better,” UBC head coach Curry Hitchborn said.
Hitchborn hopes to regroup and come back in the second leg of the Wightman Boot trophy chase on October 1 in Victoria.
The Wightman Boot is the annual two-match series between the ‘Birds and the Vikes. The winner of the competition gets possession of the boot.
The ‘Birds have retained the boot for nine consecutive seasons and Hitchborn said he plans to keep the boot again this season.
“One of our goals as a program is to never lose this, ever,” Hitchborn said.
UBC will next face the Trinity Western University Spartans on September 24 back at the Gerald McGavin Rugby Centre.